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Ohio River Boulevard

The Ohio River Boulevard and McKees Rocks Bridge
Important Links in Allegheny County's Ultimate Highway System

Norman F. Brown
Director, County Department of Public Works

Early in 1924 a most important step was taken in the improvement of County Highways when there was boldly outlined on a County map the so called Ultimate County Highway System. While the tangible result was merely a map, the recommendations presented thereon represented careful thought on not only the present highway needs, but what the future requirements might be.

In brief the County's proposed Ultimate Highway System consists of three classes of thoroughfares. RIVERSIDE BOULEVARDS, following with unbroken continuity, as closely as possible, each bank of the three rivers; these Riverside Boulevards to be bonded together at suitable places with adequate bridges. RADIAL HIGHWAYS reaching out in all directions from Pittsburgh to the outermost boundaries of the County. CIRCUIT ROUTES consisting of two belt lines, an inner and outer, north and south of the City of Pittsburgh, completely encircling the County's interior and making convenient intersections with Radial Highways and Riverside Boulevards.

The Ohio River Boulevard represents one of the most important highways which has been completed as a part of the Riverside Boulevard System. River banks from time immemorial have been natural locations for highways. The course of the canoe down the stream soon became paralleled by a primitive trail along the water's edge. Crude river boats soon cause this primitive trail to become a well-defined tow path. Steam boats and river navigation cause the tow path to develop into a cart road. Population increases and communities develop so that railroads are laid out alongside the cart road. Modern highways for automobiles must submit to the same compelling influences to which their varied predecessors bowed. Traffic naturally accumulates and flows along river sides.

During the past eight year's many highways of the three classifications referred above have been completed. In carrying on this work there has been a wonderful advantage in following the pre-established road plan. Each stretch of highway that was built not only fulfilled some local need, but it also fitted into the general plan and thereby helped to provide suitable through-traffic facilities. Of all the highways built, none has exceeded, in its traffic possibilities the Ohio River Boulevard, with its powerful arm reaching across the river -- McKees Rocks Bridge.

For a great many years the need of additional crossings over the Ohio River has been an urgent necessity. Manufacturing plants on both sides of the river have frequently urged the construction of a bridge which would carry traffic across the river at some point between the Point Bridge and the Sewickley Bridge. prior to the construction of this bridge it was necessary all traffic to go several miles out of its direct course to cross the river. In 1928 the people authorized the construction of a bridge at McKees Rocks. This structure is now completed and will fill and long felt want.

Original document: "The Ohio River Boulevard and McKees Rocks Bridge" from souvenir book published by Allegheny County Public Works Department, 1931

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Last modified: 07-Dec-2004